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On track: Southwest Light Rail project gets final piece of funding

The $928.8 million funding grant will pay for the completion of the Green Line Light Rail Extension.

The final piece of funding for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, which extends the Green Line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, has been received.  

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to the Metropolitan Council, providing $928.8 million in federal funding for the 14.5-mile light rail line.

“Today is a joyous day for the people of Minnesota,” Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle said in a statement. “With the FFGA firmly in hand, the questions hanging over Southwest LRT are finally answered."

This key piece of federal funding is a little less than half of the total cost of the more than $2 billion project, and means the Southwest LRT will be completed using federal, state and local funds as planned. 

“Securing full funding for Southwest LRT firmly sets the course for completion of the next leg of a modern light rail system that will carry us into the future," said Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison and chair of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.

The Metropolitan Council fully executed the FFGA on Monday, which represents the final step in the process to get the federal funds following a 30-day congressional notification. Previously, the administration granted the project four Letters of No Prejudice, which allowed local money to be spent and construction to advance prior to being awarded the FFGA. 

Construction on the Southwest LRT began in November 2018 and the line is expected to carry its first passengers in 2023. The line will have 16 stations in the cities of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. 

The extension of the Green Line, which currently connects Minneapolis and St. Paul, is expected to increase employment by 18% along the corridor, as well as grow the population outside of downtown Minneapolis by 56% by 2035.

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